On being ripped off

I claim to have originated the label “septic” for the malodourous end of the skeptic range, and I have the evidence (in fact I can go back further) for the context-less jonny-come-latelies.

I also claim “going emeritus” [1], but admit I got that from Jack Vance (the Languages of Pao, possibly the only (sci-fi?) book about societal control by choice of language, err, except for 1984 of course).

From the book

Another subject enjoyed a furtive currency among the students: the subject of age and death. The topic was more or less taboo – especially in the presence of a dominie – for no one died of disease or corporeal degeneration on Break ness. The dominies ranged the universe; a certain number met violent ends in spite of their built-in weapons and defenses. The greater number, however, passed their years on Breakness, unchanging except for perhaps a slight gaunt ness and angularity of the bone structure. And then, inexorably the dominie would approach his Emeritus status: he would become less precise, more emotional; egocentricity would begin to triumph over the essential social accommodations; there would be outbursts of petulance, wrath and a final megalomania and then the Emeritus would disappear.


Finisterle propounded another apparently paradoxical law of nature: ‘The more forceful and capacious the brain of a dominie, the more wild and violent its impulses when it succumbs to sclerosis and its owner becomes an Emeritus.’


Finisterle shrugged, ‘This means nothing, either to sire or to son. A man, no matter how remarkable, has only a finite capability. It is no longer a secret that Lord Palafox has succumbed to the final sickness, he is an Emeritus. The world and his brain are no longer separate they are one and the same.’


Palafox’s expression changed no whit; the sad smile trembled on his mouth; the dangerous shine glittered in his eyes. It was clear to Beran that Palafox had completely succumbed to the Breakness syndrome. Palafox was an Emeritus.

6 thoughts on “On being ripped off”

  1. No questioning the 2004-12-07 usage, but it is not clear that the Oct 22 2004 is intentional 😉

    Very well then … I shall play Leibnitz to your Newton, Wallace to your Darwin; the text is amended as follows:

    “Stoat has taken umbrage (a fine purgative, good for gout, shingles, and high in vitamin D) at perceived plagarism of his coining of “septic” to refer to Deniers.

    He offers the indisputable evidence of “The septics are cr*p (part XVII…)” and “Septics and skeptics; denialists and contrarians”, although his “REALITIES OF GLOBAL WARMING” reference is a bit dubious, it may be a typo ;-)”

    [That will do nicely. Though I can assure you it was never a typo! -W]


  2. I generally don’t like the way people like to label others in debates. I think people should get to label themselves.

    This echoes abortion where each side wants to frame the language. Ideas should be debated on their merits, not on coming up with clever names for people we don’t agree with.


  3. What about the book Babel-17 for use of language to shape people?

    [Could be, but I have a vague memory of finding that book too irritating to finish -W]


  4. #2, that’s a nice thought but you sometimes end up with both sides giving themselves very generous labels.

    For instance, I could say that everyone on my side of any debate is on the “Correct” side. 🙂


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